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Friday, 28 July 2017


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When it arrives, can we have a photo of the Exacta next to a Pentax MX with 50/1.4, please? : )

[No can do, but I can provide a comparison of the Exakta 66 with the Pentax LX. --Mike]

You may find this a charming, romantic camera outfit, Mike. But you know that you're delusional; won't use it.

I'm not snarking. I have two Rolleiflexes, a Contax G2 kit, two film Leicas, a Canon 1v, and assorted film p&s cameras, none of which I've touched for 8+ years and none of which I plan to use again. I have resolved to substantially thin their ranks this summer. But it's unlikely that I will part with the best Rollei or the Leicas any time soon. Just cuz.

Still, a functioning camera sitting on a shelf is a somewhat sad sight. Even if it's an antique.

I seem to remember you writing about the Exacta 66 a long time ago. Perhaps it was in "Darkroom User," perhaps somewhere else -- I read 'most all the camera mags in those days.

I certainly understand "the armchair narcissism of nostalgia," because I have a Minolta Autocord and a trio of Olympus OMs for exactly the same reason. I don't shoot them much (some, but not much), but I love having them on my shelf to look at and remember good times.

" b.) had the best lens I ever used, ever, although I'm fairly positive that the one I had was a "sweet spot" sample, at the apex of the sample variation—the lens coming from Japan will most likely not quite measure up"

Be careful what you wish for.

My Grandmother used to sprinkle sugar on Oranges because they never tasted as sweet as the pre-1912 fruit she remembered in Sicily.

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Yummy Xenotars.
The Xenotar is the the great exception to the non Zeiss German lenses with names ending in "ar" being inferior to the lenses ending in "on" .
I have a few Xenotars that I acquired as extra stuff in package deals for something I really wanted, and they sat in a box for 20 years. Two of them are the 50mm Deckel mount lenses for the Braun Paxette, and on my Sony A7 they are beautiful lenses. The fact that they look like little Hasselblad 500c lenses when I shoot waist level is nice too.

Glad to see you got an old friend coming back. I did a similar sale and then repurchase of an Agfa Super Isolette /Ansco Super Speedex (same camera for different markets). I lucked out and got a good copy both times.

Those cameras also don't have strap lugs, but if you want a strap and a tripod bracket there are a number of quick release plates that have a slot for a strap. I'm partial to the Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist Strap, but there are many other great choices. I feel much safer with a wrist strap than no strap, and feel less touristy than with a neck strap.

And regarding meters, there are metering apps for phone that work pretty well, and the phone is usually with me so it's not one more thing to carry.

I once (late 1960s) owned an Exakta 66 vertical format camera. It gave me the sharpest negatives I ever had. Sharp enough that you could cut your finger if not careful. BUT the film winder kept breaking, and after the third expensive repair I gave up and traded it for a 4x5 Speed Graphic. Didn't keep that one too long either...

Wow thats expensive. I love my Pentacon 6 camera that I have. I got it with the 30mm fish eye, and zeiss 80 f2.8 mc lens for $300, back in 2009. I have never had a film flatness issue. However the film advance doesn't return all the way unless you stick your finger on it. This actually works out ok as I can usually get 2 extra shots on a roll, and still have enough spacing between shots.
I would say you should get the Kiev prism and an adapter if needed. The metered ttl prism is cheap.

ZIGACKLY! - Don't know whether you are an Asterix/Obelixz fan . ..


Is this the one that comes with caterpillar tracks?

I think I said it before when you mentioned this camera, but I'll reiterate, just in case I didn't.
This camera's biggest advantage (and it has precious few as you probably know) is that it can take the beautiful Sonnar 180 2.8 by Zeiss Jena, a rebranded and medium format adapted Sonnar Olympia. While the original Olympia was just another telephoto lens, fitted on the medium format camera it makes for a perfect portrait lens, perfect focal lenght, capable of supershallow DOF, not too sharp, but not soft either, with beautiful smooth bokeh, but organically, not artificially smooth like the Minolta 135STF. Perfect portrait lens. If you intend to shoot this Exacta*, get the Sonnar. You'll love it.

*you know you won't. This is the case with all things nostalgia makes us buy. They end up on the shelf. In my case it was the pearl white Minolta 8000i Space Edition. I could never afford it back in the day. Now that I got it, I shot two rolls of film with it, and that was that. Another dust gatherer.

What the Traveller Saw is probably the only book in my Mini-Collection of Eric Newby books I never read. I will pick it up tomorrow. Maybe I should re-read the others as well. The Last Grain Race, Slowly Down the Ganges, Love and War in the Apennines and A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. Great fun about someone else's suffering.
Anyone for a short walk in the contemporary Hindu Kush?
Please bring along your Pentax.

Congratulations on re-acquiring a Xenotar MF! Some nice work on Flickr done with the Exakta 66 and that lens: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/exakta66

Oh, man... that's beautiful in it's own very special way. Good for you.

Guess I need to break down and get another Barnack, probably Canon since that was better than my IIIf, & a Summitar 50/2. As long as there is film, I can see having that alongside my much more serious m4/3 camera.

See, I couldn't do that. There are a lot of lovely film cameras I've owned (and since sold) over the years, and one or two I MIGHT want just as objets d'art to be ogled occasionally, but I'm so much happier with digital overall that I can't get myself enthused enough to repurchase one of the older ones.

That said, the single camera I owned (but rarely used) and would love to run my hands over once more was an aluminum 8x10 Toyo Field View. A remarkably well built camera. When I finally sold it, some 20 years after I originally bought it, it sold on eBay for more than twice the price I paid for it new.

At a certain point in life it really is OK to let nostalgia take precedence over sanity. Just yesterday I was thinking, boy I really want to find a Mamiya Press and a vintage Fiat Spider. Just to have.

There is a Russian copy of that. Kiev 66. I got that when I was a student. It had a pretty good lens and the film winding was such that you could get 13 exposures on a 120 film. Something I appreciated as a student.
Those are just about the only good things you can say about it. (well, it was also cheap of course).
I sold it soon after graduating and perhaps not so strangely, I never wanted to get another.

When digital SLRs came around, I sold my medium format gear. That was back in 2002. I've lost count of how many digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras have come and gone since. This summer I got a wild hair (I really don't know where the urge came from) to look at film cameras again. I ended up getting a Mamiya 645 Pro TL kit off eBay from Jack's Camera in Indiana. I dug out my Sekonic light meter and gave the Mamiya a spin. All the good memories came back: the large viewfinder, taking time to see before clicking the shutter (those frames are precious).

When these cameras were new, I could never quite afford Mamiyas, to say nothing of accessories. Now, at used prices, I have an RZ67 Pro II in addition to the 645 and each with several lenses. I am seeing differently again, something I lost in all those years with the smaller digital cameras. I'm quite happy back with 120 film.

The name Exakta brings back many fond memories. I used my brother's Exakta IIb with 50/2 pancolar lens from 1969-1970.

Lots of play factor. The film cutting knife is truly useful when you cannot finish a roll.

He took the camera back. 30 years on, I bought an exact model and lens for nostalgia.

"I know it's neither as good a camera as the 7II nor as desirable."

Now, if as in days of yore, the Exakta 66 came upholstered with Carl Zeiss Jena glass that might be a somewhat reversed situation.


A camera you love for a camera that's just a camera - fair trade. My guilty secret is that I loved my Kiev 60 far more than the Hasselblads I borrowed from my father. (Except the SWC, but that's a different story.)

The clunky Kiev was ugly, eventually ate it's own shutter, and I got great stuff with it. Replaced it ultimately with a beat up 67, which I still like more than all the other, 'better' medium format rigs.

Anyways, sometimes it's nice to have a camera that reminds you why you like to take pictures, even if you never use that particular one to make anything.

Oh wait, thats a Xenotar not a Xenar , totally different , still like Schneider Xenars a lot though.

That Xenotar MF is a seven element design rather than the usual five element Xenotar , sort of like how the 80mm planar for the Hasselblad had two extra elements, right?

Darn you Mike, I have real work to do...
Must - Not - Go - Near - Lens - Drawer

In reference to the lens, I am not sure anything can be as good as how they are remembered.

[Oh, but I have the pictures, many of them. It was that good. --Mike]

When it comes to lens quality, you probably want a lens that is the at the nadir rather than the apex of sample variation.

But, your point is taken regardless. ;-)


I've got a few oldies in my collection--a Spotmatic, an antique Voightlander, a Rollei 35 with f/3.5 Tessar, and a Polaroid Land camera model 100. They are in good condition.

In 1975, while in high school, my grandfather gave me his ca. 1960 TLR Rolleiflex with the legendary f/3.5 Planar lens. I took a lot of fine photos with it.

It survived a 3-foot drop onto a concrete sidewalk while I ran to catch a bus. That happened during my senior year in art school. A year later, I brought the camera to SK Grimes in Boston's "leather district" for repair and a CLA.

The camera operated fairly well after that. However the split image no longer lined up at infinity. Still, the camera served me well, especially during a trip through the American Southwest in 1998. After that, it's doubtful I shot more than ten rolls.

The Rolleiflex sat in my closet except for the one or two times a year I'd take it out and fire the shutter from 1 second to 1/500th. The self timer mechanism, a bit sluggish, worked fine.

About four years ago, I put it up on Craigslist for $400. A young man, perhaps in his early 20s, purchased it. He was thrilled to have it.

I probably could have sold it for $600 or more, but I was more interested in seeing it go to an enthusiastic young photographer than someone with disposable income.

I hope the young man uses it or has passed it along to another young photographer.

Wow! You have adopted the ugliest dog in the pound, but I admire your decision to let the 7ii go to good use. I have one whole camera system that I do not use very often, and I always contemplate selling, but then I shoot one roll of film and the results just don't let me part with it. It is the Contax 645. The 80mm f2 and the 120mm Makro just render in a way that is so unique, I know I would regret getting rid of it.

That's one totally funky-looking machine. And I'm all in favour of that. Those of us craving some periodic film-discussion-manna are on the edge of our seats. If you take advantage of Ilford USA's printing-on-silver-gelatin-paper service, "we" will be salivating, awaiting your reporting. Good luck Mike. I hope your new lens is even better than your original one.

PS: I've taken your advice and constrained my film choice to Tri-X. And: I use a 6x9 rangefinder (2 kg of happiness). If I'd known about these chunky cameras earlier, I may never have owned the 4 Leicas that I've used in the past 27 years.

Instant return mirrors? I've heard some people have all sorts of luxuries such as electric film winding. Me, my main film camera is a 500C Hasselblad, which is a lot older than me.

Hope you like the Exakta. Sometimes it's good to shoot with a camera that requires slightly more effort, as long as the amount of effort doesn't go too far.

I actually had the 1954 version of the Exacta 66, it had some of the same problems, it seems they never really got it right! Mine had the 80mm f2.8 Tessar, which was actually pretty good, but not in the same class as your Xenotar.

Thanks for the reference to your GSOTPANWASTOTZSS article.
It still has relevance today! Anyone brace or foolish enough to use C-mount lenses with a Nikon 1 body and adapter (and there are plenty, including yours truly), needs to do this, as well as guesstimate focus distance, unless they can find an adapter with AE/AF assist chip.
Quick question from an amateur only familiar to digital, is this a variation of th Sunny 16 rule, or does it follow similar principles?

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